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Welcome to
Blue Mountain

   SIR Sanford Fleming

In the

Southern Georgian Bay


   Most of us are familiar with the name Sir Sanford Fleming.  He is well known for his work in engineering and the Canadian Pacific Railroad.  He is also known for his work in surveying, map making, Canada’s postage stamp and worldwide standard time zones. He was also a member of The Royal Society of Canada and founder of The Royal Canadian Institute in Toronto.  Most of us however are not as familiar with the important role he played throughout the Southern Georgian Bay Area.

    When he came to Canada in 1845 he planned to obtain employment and bring his parents and six younger siblings over to settle in the new country.  In 1853 he took a survey team and traveled by steamer from Toronto into Lake Huron via Lake Ontario, The Welland Canal, Lake Erie, The Detroit River and Lake St. Clair.  He spent two month surveying the islands and shoreline of Lake Huron and the Bruce Peninsula.  Failing to purchase a canoe from the Indians in Mantioulin Island, they crossed over to Tobermory in a leaky rowboat. From there they sailed to Saugeen to discover that a rescue party had been organized to look for them.  After exploring the Bruce Peninsula and the area south to Goderich they went to what is now Owen Sound to prepare for their trip back to Toronto.

 Fleming was only 26 when he completed his plans for the Simcoe and Huron Railway which would travel from Toronto across the length of Southern Georgian Bay. He had previously surveyed the area and found sources of stone and timber to aid in the building of the railroad.  He purchased property in the Blue Mountain area and moved his family there. They named the location Craigleith. During the 1850’s the line was completed to Allendale south of Barrie and a little later to Hens and Chickens, which is now known as Collingwood. This opened up greater opportunities for the new settlers to travel and ship their products to more populated areas in a shorter time span. In 1858 it was reorganized and became the Northern Railway of Canada. Ten years later it was extended to Meaford, aided by strong backing from the Flemings, but the route to Owen Sound never materialized.

     In 1872 Sanford’s father sold a parcel of land on an old native trail close to the tracks that ran through the Fleming’s quarry that had supplied stone for the early structures in Craigleith and Collingwood. The first station was probably just a platform, but by 1878 and 1882 a wooden station building was constructed which had separate waiting rooms for men and women as well as living quarters for the station master. Sanford’s mother gave the station master’s wife some lilac cuttings which resulted in the famous Craigleith lilacs. The station proved to be a big asset to the Blue Mountain Resort and opened up the area to skiers from Toronto who were met there with horse and wagon and taken to the lodge.  It was also a boon to the farmers and industries in the area and by 1881 there were six trains stopping there on the trip from Toronto to Meaford and return.  Rail service ended in 1960 and the station building became a cottage for the former mayor of Collingwood. It was later turned into a restaurant and the rail line became a part of the Georgian Trail.  Today, it is a museum that holds the memories of the history of the Craiglieth and Collingwood area.

     Some of the Fleming family is still active in the community, his great-nephew George is credited with developing the historical Nipissing Ridge amid the forest above Georgian Bay.